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Anti-Oppression LibGuide

This guide provides the City Tech community with anti-oppression and anti-racism resources.



“Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. ” 
 Paulo Freire



Oppression: Institutionalized power that is historically formed and perpetuated over time and allows "certain groups" of people to assume a dominant position over other groups and this dominance is maintained and continued at an institutional level. this means that oppression is built into institutions like government and educational systems. 

  • On a personal level, oppression expresses itself through beliefs (stereotypes), attitudes, values (prejudice), and actions (discrimination) used to justify unfair treatment based on distinct aspects of one’s identity, real or perceived. These can be internalized and directed towards the self or externalized and directed towards those we interact with on a day-to-day basis.

Individual Oppression: "The beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate privilege & oppression. Individual (racism/sexism/heterosexism/ableism/etc.) can occur at both an unconscious and conscious level and can be both active and passive. Examples include telling a “____-ist” joke, using a racial/gender/religious/etc. the epithet, or believing in the inherent superiority of a group of people."Source: Allyship and Anti-Oppression: A Resource Guide from TriCollege Libraries. 

Institutional Oppression: "The network of institutionalized structures, policies, and practices that create advantages and benefits for dominant group members. And creates discrimination, oppression, and disadvantages for subordinated (marginalized communities) group members. The advantages for dominant group members are often invisible to them or are considered entitlements or rights available to everyone as opposed to unearned privileges awarded to only some individuals or groups. Institutions may be Housing, Government, Education, Media, Business, Health Care, Criminal Justice, Employment, Labor, Politics, Religious Organizations, etc."  Source: Allyship and Anti-Oppression: A Resource Guide from TriCollege Libraries.

Internalized Oppression: "When members of a target social group adopt the agent group’s ideology and accept their subordinate status, prejudices, and/or stereotypes as deserved, natural, or inevitable." Source: Allyship and Anti-Oppression: A Resource Guide from TriCollege Libraries.

Heteronormativity: A worldview that frames heterosexuality as the standard sexuality. This is created through repetitive representations of heterosexuality and heterosexual relationships in our society. An example of heteronormativity is the assumption that people are heterosexual unless they “come out”. Another example is how non-heterosexual relationships are expected to be similar to traditional “heterosexual” relationships (i.e., labeling one partner as the “man” of the relationship, expecting couples to want marriage/children, etc).

Classism: A hierarchical system that provides or denies resources, agency, and dignity based on one’s perceived, socioeconomic class (poor/working class, middle/upper class, upper class, etc.). 

Prejudice:  Prejudice is an unjustified or incorrect attitude (usually negative) towards an individual based solely on the individual’s membership of a social group. source: McLeod, S. A. (2008). Prejudice and Discrimination.

Microaggression: Everyday verbal and non-verbal slides, indignities, put-downs, and insults, whether intentional or not that people of color, women, LGTBQIA and other marginalized groups experience in their everyday interactions with others. These interactions, oftentimes appear to be a compliment but contain a hidden insult to the person receiving the comment. Microaggressions occur because they are outside of the level of conscious awareness of the perpetrator and are rooted in ideologies, such as racism, classism, sexism, colonialism, and other discriminatory belief systems. ( Source: Microaggressions in everyday life video) 

We can reduce our engagement in microaggression by:

Ableism: A system of superiority and discrimination that provides or denies resources, agency, and dignity based on one’s abilities (mental/intellectual, emotional, and/or physical.) Ableism depends on a binary, and benefits able-bodied people at the expense of disabled people. Like other forms of oppression, ableism operates on the individual, institutional and cultural levels.

Privilege: Unearned, special advantage that a person is born into or acquires during their lifetime. It's supported by informal and formal institutions of society and conferred to all members of a dominant group. Privilege implies that whenever there is a system of oppression( such as capitalism, patriarchy, or white supremacy)  there is an oppressed and privileged group that benefits from oppressions that the system puts in place.  

Essential readings on white privilege:

Diversity: The range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious and ethical value system, national origin, and political beliefs. Source: Ferris State University-Diversity and inclusion center.

Inclusion: Involvement and empowerment, where the inherent worth and dignity of people are recognized. Source: Ferris State University-Diversity and inclusion center. 

Otherwise stated, terms adapted from: 

Class and classism

Classism: A hierarchical system that provides or denies resources, agency, and dignity based on one’s, or one’s perceived, socioeconomic class (poor/working class, middle/upper class, upper class, etc.). Anti-violence project 


  • Center for Study and working-class life: "The Center for Study of Working Class Life is dedicated to exploring the meaning of class in today’s world. Looking at society through the lens of class clarifies many important social questions in new ways – why the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, what attacks on government programs through privatization mean, why the suburbs aren’t really a middle-class haven, how the "family values" debate impacts our lives, and much more. We are an interdisciplinary effort of faculty and staff at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, founded in November 1999." 
  • Resource Generation: "Resource Generation envisions a world in which all communities are powerful, healthy, and living in alignment with the planet.  A world that is racially and economically just in which wealth, land, and power are shared."
  •   Class Action:  "Class Action inspires action to end classism and extreme inequality by providing change-makers with tools, training, and inspiration to raise awareness and shift cultural beliefs about social class, build cross-class solidarity, and transform institutions and systems."